Daily Devotion 22 July 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Psalm 22:9-11

9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Psalm 139:13-14

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

Earlier in the lockdown I happened to see a few minutes of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, on Channel 4. I hadn’t expected to watch it, or enjoy it, but after a few minutes I was riveted! Maybe it was seeing people carry loads I could never carry, leap from heights I’d be too scared to scale, or cover distances on terrain that makes the Downs look like a child’s playground; maybe it was seeing polished and manicured ‘slebs’ face challenges that nothing really could have prepared them for?

I read one of the ex-Special Forces instructors’ books after the series: ‘Break Point’ by Ollie Ollerton, which contains all the hardship, extremities, and challenges you would expect to find in such a book. The dedication on the inside cover reads: ‘This book is dedicated to my mum, whose unconditional love and care held firm even when all around her was falling apart’. Throughout the book, amidst war, terrorism, uncertainty, and trauma, this battle-hardened soldier’s mother is his constant, unwavering, loving force in his life. Perhaps we might have expected a different dedication from someone we might assume to be an ‘alpha male’, or ‘macho’, and soforth.

It’s not on the inside cover, but throughout the Bible there are streams of feminine imagery used for God – the two Psalms above are well-known for this. Psalm 22 suggests an intrinsic connection between the love of the mother and the love of God; Psalm 139 contains imagery of the miracle of creation taking place in the womb, all within God’s creative, mothering love. We’d of course be unwise to overly ‘gender’ God, trying to assign overly biological characteristics to God – we are made in God’s image, not the reverse. However, in trying to understand the nature of God (as incomplete as our understanding will ever be) we would be equally unwise to ignore the rich variety of imagery for God in the Bible. Some words or images for God may challenge us, some might feel provocative, even, but they may disturb long-held views and perhaps bring fresh insights that deepen our faith. I wouldn’t have expected to find a possible description for the love of God in that book – but actually, isn’t God precisely the one who above all things shows unconditional love, care, and who holds us even if life can seem to be falling apart?

Prayer:

God our Mother and Father, grant us daily fresh understanding and insights
into your wondrous nature and your loving work in our midst.
May we know your strong, enduring, tender, and intimate love for us – even us,
That in turn we may love you, and love one another. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
Image freely available online.

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All material within this order of worship is reproduced by permission under CCL 1226356